The Fourth International

The Long March of the Trotskyists

Chapter 8: The Turn in the World Situation (1968 onwards)

The composition of the congress held in late December 1965 reflected the influx of youth that had revitalised the sections. The accentuation of this phenomenon in the following years was to pose a good many new problems. We have reached the point at which our history merges into current politics. It was the war in Vietnam that contributed, in the most conclusive and decisive fashion, to the turn in the world situation that had been ripening beneath the surface apathy, beneath Europe's political stagnation, beneath the reformism that followed 'de-Stalinisation' in the workers states. As Marx said, revolution, that old mole, was inexorably burrowing away, so that one fine day the ground, thus undermined, might cave in.

Other phenomena also operated in a direction equally favourable to the turn in the situation -- for example, China's 'cultural revolution', despite the extravagant forms that it often took. The announcement of the Ninth Congress of the Chinese CP showed that the 'cultural revolution' basically aimed at replacing a bureaucratically ossified apparatus by another apparatus, bureaucratic too, but more active. One of the ways this operation had been effected was through mass mobilisations against the old apparatus. But how many in the capitalist countries saw only these mobilisations and were thus encouraged to revolutionary action!

An international phenomenon, the activation of students in the capitalist countries, was a premonitory sign of this turn in the world situation. Up to then, only students in the under-developed countries participated in mass struggles; there was really nothing surprising about this in the colonial revolution, where students have always played a substantial role. But students entering the political arena in developed capitalist countries was a new phenomenon, whose extent had no comparable precedent in history not even in the bourgeois revolutions. Particular circumstances in each particular country played their part in this phenomenon; since the latter was international in scope, however, it had to have a common objective basis. For the first time -- and this in a by-and-large affluent period -- students, not in tiny minorities but in large masses, attacked university structures, then went on to attack the very social structures of capitalist society, independently of traditional working class leaderships. Various indications also pointed to an awakening of working class youth (even if this was, for the moment, less marked than that of the student youth), with the same tendency towards finding their own path outside the control of the traditional labour leaderships. Finally, an even more unexpected and novel phenomenon appeared -- a political awakening of adolescents in the schools. The International immediately grasped the unusual importance of these developments among the youth.

The sections very rapidly found themselves engaged in propaganda and agitation in favour of the Vietnamese revolution. The aim of this activity was to organise vigorous demonstrations which, in contra-distinction to the never-ending petitions and timid measures of the peace movement, would have real impact and would be really effective. This could be done only by clearly establishing the difference between the demand for 'negotiations' (which was formulated by this instrument of Moscow's peaceful co-existence policy) and a revolutionary policy whose aim was victory for the National Liberation Front, victory for Vietnam.

The policy followed by China and its supporters, confused as it may have been in many ways, also favoured this outflanking of the satellites of the Kremlin in aid to the Vietnamese revolution.

One of the most valuable contributions in furthering the revolutionary currents was Che Guevara's celebrated slogan, 'Two, three...many Vietnams'. He gave his life to make this slogan a reality, to engage the forces of imperialism on another front.

Trotskyists were always in the front ranks of the ad hoc groups organised in many countries, first in the United States and Japan, and then in several West European countries, for the purpose of bringing together into one broad, united front all who favoured mass actions on the Vietnam question. Trotskyists were behind the first demonstrations for Vietnam in West Europe (Liege, 15 October 1966; the October 1967 demonstrations at the time of Che Guevara's death; the Berlin demonstration of 21 February 1968). They were in the thick of the battle at Berkeley and in the forefront of all anti-war actions in the United States. It was they who maintained the unity of the movement conducting the campaign in Great Britain, which brought 100,000 demonstrators out in the streets of London on 27 October l968. [1]

On the heels of these actions for the defence of Vietnam, the Trotskyist organisations linked up with large layers of youth who, in their search for a revolutionary political programme, were beginning to learn the truth about the October Revolution, the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky, the Trotskyist movement. The Trotskyist organisations (especially those in the West European countries and in the United States, which had suffered long and difficult years of debilitation) were rejuvenated and reaped the benefits of a recruitment larger than they had ever before experienced. It was unavoidable that such a phenomenon would provoke sectarian criticism: students, not workers, are being recruited, etc. Vanguard organisations such as those of the Trotskyist movement have no reason to abstain from being active and recruiting among a social layer where valuable intellectual forces, indispensable for the working class movement, can be found. Aside from this fact, however, the generalised student radicalisation in the developed capitalist states merited analysis because it was specific to a new social situation, different from what had hitherto existed.

Technological progress, the needs of the economy, new developments in the sciences -- all this sparked a veritable explosion of the university population. So greatly increased was the size of the student body that it brought about a qualitative change in its social importance. At the same time, the position in society for which these students were being prepared was no longer what it had been. On entering the university -- and even earlier, at school -- they had become extremely concerned about the contradictions of capitalist society. They were even the first to be aware of the new contradictions in neo-capitalist society. This phenomenon assumed exceptionally large dimensions in the United States, but the same tendencies appeared elsewhere. Henceforth there would be about six million students in the fortress of imperialism -- a percentage of the population not very much lower than the percentage of farmers.

This student population is concentrated in university towns. Their studies are not preparing them -- as was formerly the case for most college students -- to fill their parents' shoes, to take their elders' places as bankers, industrialists, or petty-bourgeois professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.). Gone is the hope that many technicians will be able to find important and high-paying positions in big industrial plants. The new students are destined to become people who work for a living, exploited either by the big corporations or by the state. Socially situated as middle layers, they are threatened with unemployment -- just as workers are. And the numerous social layers of this student population are particularly sensitive to the other multiple contradictions of society.

The use that capitalism makes of their higher education (whether in the natural sciences with, for example, utilisation of nuclear energy for military purposes; or in the social sciences for socially monstrous purposes), together with the criminal behaviour of capitalist society towards the most oppressed strata (colonial masses, blacks, etc.), forced students to go beyond a critique of an educational system that was being 'reformed' only to make it better able to fulfil its alienating functions. They moved on to criticise the underlying causes of the evils that were victimising students themselves, as well.

The International had barely begun preparations for a new world congress (at which, besides the general trend of the world situation, very important specific problems such as the Chinese 'cultural revolution' were to be examined) when a turn in the international situation took place -- the biggest turn, in fact, since the end of the Second World War.

The year 1968, which opened with the smashing defeat inflicted on the Americans by the Vietnamese Tet offensive, will assuredly be a Landmark in the history of the socialist revolution. Two events stand out. First of all, May 1968 in France. Triggered off by a student revolution, a general strike of 10 million workers in its turn drew large sections of the petty bourgeoisie into an unprecedented challenge to the authority of the state, as well as to private ownership of the means of production and numerous other capitalist institutions. This was followed by a revolutionary upsurge in Czechoslovakia that, during the first week of Soviet military occupation, assumed a size and strength unprecedented in a workers state.

Several other events, smaller in scope but pointing in the same direction, should be added to these two, whose significance defies description:

(a) The crisis in US imperialism's two-party political system including a leadership crisis -- shown in the presidential election (Johnson's abdication and the general lack of enthusiasm for both Nixon and Humphrey, neither of whom had any political authority).

(b) The crisis in the international Communist movement, Moscow having definitively lost its authority as 'guide' in this long-time monolithic and extremely hierarchical outfit.

(c) The disgraceful bankruptcy of the British Labour Party government, the strongest party of the international social-democracy, which had strong hopes for it.

(d) The activation, after several years of relative passivity, of the Latin American urban masses. This included Mexico, a country considered by its bourgeoisie up to then as immune to Latin American-type revolutions.

These upheavals, the early outlines of which had been apparent for two years, particularly the entry into the lists of a new generation outside the control of the old bureaucracies, confronted the European sections of the Fourth International with the problem of changing their tactics. As soon as these phenomena appeared, the Trotskyist movement had undertaken certain tactical adjustments. This was particularly true in France at the time of the Algerian war, as a result of the working class parties' position on the latter, but they were only partial adjustments. The size and scope of these phenomena laid the groundwork for the formation of currents to the left of the Communist parties, currents strong enough to become factors on the political scene in several countries. Thus, beginning in 1967, the European sections opened a debate on tactics, with a view to revising the entryist tactic. The open discussion on this point was oriented towards a change in tactic. Entryism was the price that had to be paid because of the disproportion that existed between the hegemony of the old leaderships and the weakness of the vanguard, practically incapable of going beyond the stage of a propaganda group. The possibility now existed of organisations being formed that, while still largely in the minority, could nevertheless exercise enough strength in given sectors to acquire importance on a national scale. Moreover, the entryist tactic had been established almost fifteen years earlier on the perspective, based on the relationship of forces at the time, that the crisis would develop through the formation of left tendencies within those leaderships themselves. Because of the prolonged period of prosperity, leftists in the traditional organisations generally experienced the same slide to the right that the mass working class movement underwent as a whole. In only a few cases did the contrary occur. For us, those few`cases nevertheless justified the tactic.

While those who kept denouncing 'entryism' ended up by withering away into sectarianism, it is sufficient for us, in view of May 1968, to point to the formation of the Jeunesse Communiste Revolutionnaire (Revolutionary Communist Youth) as a result of the application of this tactic within the Union des Etudiants Communistes (Communist Student Union). The JCR constituted Trotskyism's most valuable contribution to the French May. [2] Let us not forget, too, that the SDS in Germany (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund -- German Socialist Student Union) arose out of the Social Democracy, which is the mass organisation in that country.

The 1968 turning point marked the end of the period of apathy; the end of political stagnation in the advanced capitalist countries, which had begun shortly after the Second World War; the end of the period of reformism that had followed the first years of 'de-Stalinisation' in the workers states. This turning point marked the end of the period in which the world revolution had been carried forward almost exclusively by the colonial revolution, a fact that distorted the world revolutionary process considerably and resulted in a proliferation of numerous theories, reformist or revolutionary, that had one point in common: the alleged incapacity of the proletariat, especially in the advanced capitalist countries, to play a revolutionary role. The activation of the working class masses in France and Czechoslovakia, as well as the demonstrations in the large Latin American cities, delivered a mortal blow to all these theories. The distortions that the world revolutionary process was prey to for almost twenty years were on their way out.

The changes in the international situation were also indirectly reflected even in the policy of the CPs. Since 1935 they have always put forward, especially in Western Europe, a policy of class collaboration with social-democracy and wings of the bourgeoisie under the name of 'Popular Front','national front','left union', etc. But the precise aims assigned to this policy have varied. Before the war, this policy had only the aim of 'stopping fascism'. Immediately after the war, it was a question of an 'advanced democracy' which would very gradually, during an indefinite period, lead on to socialism. At present, this 'advanced democracy' is increasingly often presented as a stage which would rapidly bring about socialism. Obviously a policy based on a peaceful and parliamentary road can lead only to defeats. But it is symptomatic that they are now compelled to speak of socialism in the short term in order to respond to the aspirations of their audience.

Under these new conditions, theoretically and politically so much more propitious, the International made preparations for its 1969 world congress. Ninety-eight section delegates, fraternal delegates, and observers, from thirty countries, were present at this congress, held in April 1969.

The main documents adopted by this congress were:

* Theses on the new rise of the world revolution and an introductory report on these theses by Comrade Ernest Mandel, passed unanimously except for two votes.

* Resolution on the perspectives of the Latin American revolution, presented by Comrade Roca and passed by a two-thirds majority.

* Resolution on the great 'cultural revolution' in China and the report of Comrade Livio Maitan, who presented the resolution to the congress, passed by a very large majority.

* A resolution orienting the International's work in the immediate future towards the radicalising youth and opening a discussion on the problems posed by this orientation, with a document presented by Comrade Albert.

The congress also unanimously adopted the outgoing United Secretariat's report on activities, presented by Comrade Mandel; a report on the finances of the International; and resolutions dealing with the situation of the movement in Germany, Argentina, Ceylon, and Great Britain. In Great Britain, where there had been no official section, the congress recognised the International Marxist Group as the British section of the Fourth International.

The theses presented to the congress on the new rise of the world revolution summarised in six main points the turn in the world situation that took place in 1968:

1. The imperialist counter-offensive, unleashed by American imperialism following the victory of the Cuban revolution, after having met with some important temporary successes in Brazil, Indonesia, and in numerous African countries, had been stalemated by the heroic Vietnamese masses who recaptured the military initiative with the Tet offensive (1968).

2. The victorious resistance of the Vietnamese people coincided with a general slowing down in the economic growth of the imperialist countries, which sharpened the social contradictions and intensified the class struggle in most of these countries.

3. May 1968 in France had reactivated the revolutionary upsurge in Europe.

4. The victorious defence of the Vietnamese revolution and the reactivation of revolutionary struggle in several imperialist countries gave the colonial revolution the possibility of surmounting the obstacles of the preceding phase and again gathering momentum.

5. Stimulated by the Vietnamese revolution and by the revolutionary crisis in France, the ripening of conditions for the political revolution in the bureaucratically degenerated or deformed workers states has already led to large mobilisations in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, and is at the doorstep of the USSR itself.

6. The appearance of a new, young vanguard on a world scale, largely outside the control of the traditional mass organisations, favours the solution of the central task of our era -- creating a new, revolutionary leadership of the world proletariat.

The report on activities could justifiably record the important -- in many cases, decisive -- role played by the Fourth International's militants in the campaigns for the defence of the Vietnamese and Cuban revolutions; the defence of militants persecuted by the bourgeoisie (Hugo Blanco, the Peruvian revolutionists, the Mexican students) or by the bureaucracies of the workers states (the Polish comrades Kuron and Modzelewsky); the campaign for support of the socialist Arab revolution, etc. The activities report could also point to the considerable advances made by the Trotskyist newspapers and other publications throughout the world, and the extraordinary volume of editions and re-editions of Trotsky's works in many languages and in countries where they had never before appeared.

Most especially, the report had to evaluate the Trotskyist movement's participation in the May 1968 events in France. This participation had its climax at the world congress itself: the Ligue Communiste, ten times larger and with immeasurably greater influence than the pre-May 1968 Trotskyist organisation, became the new French section of the Fourth International.

Side by side with this striking advance, participants at the world congress reported on progress made practically everywhere. Leadership bodies of the International and its sections felt new blood coursing through their veins, supplied by young cadres expressing the high potential of the new generation in the ranks of the world socialist revolution.

The turn in the world situation was expressed not only in the composition and progress of the Trotskyist movement, but it was also examined very carefully in the course of in-depth analyses in the tradition of the Trotskyist movement itself. To the usual outline of general tasks, the discussions added an exceptionally strong note that emphasised the principal result of this turn, i.e., the necessity of raising the International's activity to a higher level, a level demanded by the new situation. The organisation would no longer content itself with participating in mass struggles by advancing its programme; it would now endeavour to intervene, at least in certain countries and on certain fronts of the struggle, with the object of playing a leading role in them. The question of the Trotskyist movement's making an eventual breakthrough on certain points, in and through action, thus constituted the guiding thread in the main discussions of the congress -- which were extremely lively.

During each of the discussions on the principal documents submitted to the world congress, it became apparent that the Trotskyist movement (after having tried for years to stem the Stalinist tide and then having participated in revolutionary upsurges that did not throw off the bureaucratic yoke) had for the first time in its history the possibility of making a breakthrough by effectively proving, on a few, still limited class struggle fronts, the validity of its programme -- no longer in a theoretical way, but in action. The world congress showed that it was very aware of this new situation, of its implications, of the perspectives it offered for constructing a revolutionary Marxist, mass International. It is obvious that such a turn cannot be taken just by voting at a congress, no matter how important that may be. The period after the Ninth World Congress demanded of the International, of its sections, of the organisations connected with it politically, persistent day-in, day-out work to make such a turn a reality -- as well as even closer ties among all the parties in the movement.

Shortly after the world congress, the Ligue Communiste showed the big gain made by the Trotskyist movement in France through the extraordinarily successful election campaign of Alain Krivine, the Ligue's presidential candidate. This campaign went far beyond the borders of France and made the International known to large sectors throughout Europe.

Most of the Fourth International's sections, as well as the Socialist Workers Party in the USA, grew considerably in the period following the Ninth World Congress -- in an uneven fashion from country to country, but very substantially nevertheless. At this time organisations were created in countries where the Fourth International had not been present before (Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden); sections were rebuilt in countries where circumstances had reduced them considerably (Mexico, Switzerland, etc.) or had even forced them to disappear altogether (Spain, with the spectacular growth of the Liga Comunista Revolucionaria). This phenomenon extended also to countries like Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. More and more the Fourth International was committed in class struggles across the entire world.[3]

The progress made by the Fourth International could be seen concretely in two large demonstrations during 1970 and 1971. In November 1970, the International called a conference in Brussels, seat of the European Economic Community, at which it counterposed to the Europe of multinational trusts the slogan of a 'Red Europe', a socialist Europe which alone can overcome the division between the Western and Eastern parts of the old continent. More than 3,500 enthusiastic people, most of them youth from all the countries of Europe, were present at the Brussels Conference.

The Fourth International issued an appeal for a demonstration to be held in Paris in May 1971 to celebrate the centennial of the Paris Commune by continuing its fight for a world commune, for the world socialist revolution. Over 30,000 people covered the Belleville and Menilmontant districts and filed past the Mur des Federes in the Père Lachaise cemetery, at the very place where the last fighters of the 1871 Commune met their death. An utterly astounded bourgeois press described the demonstration in terms such as 'composed mostly of young people', and 'vibrant with enthusiasm'. The press also had to acknowledge that of all the demonstrations organised for this anniversary (Socialist Party, PSU, etc.), this was -- except, of course, for the CP's demonstration, in which about 60,000 people participated -- by far the biggest.

The international situation since the Ninth World Congress has been marked by some very important events. On the one hand there has been a grave defeat for the Chilean masses with the overthrow of Allende's 'peaceful road' experiment by the generals headed by Pinochet. This in turn has encouraged a general strengthening of reaction in many Latin American countries: in Peru the 'reformist' interlude came to an end while in Argentina the Videla coup in 1976 ushered in a period of the most bloody repression in which the Trotskyists of the Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores (PST Socialist Workers Party) were among the major victims.

In contrast, the revolutionary upsurge of the European workers has won important successes, bringing down the Salazar-Caetano dictatorship in Portugal after half a century, ending the dictatorship of the Creek colonels, and enforcing a rapid liberalisation in Spain after the death of France. Despite subsequent setbacks (the Portuguese defeat of November 1975, the austerity policies imposed in Italy and Spain with the help of the CPs), the revolutionary process in Europe is clearly only marking time before the offensive is renewed in the coming years.

In Africa, too, imperialism has undergone important defeats. The struggle of the oppressed masses in Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau not only achieved their liberation from Portuguese colonialism but also helped to stimulate the struggles in Africa south of the Zambezi. A growth in the guerrilla struggles in Namibia and Zimbabwe was followed by a mass upsurge in South Africa itself with the Soweto demonstrations in June 1976.

Finally, and above all, the last period has seen the overwhelming victory of the people of Indochina. The capture of Saigon after a struggle lasting thirty years was an immense encouragement to the revolutionary movement in the whole of South-East Asia.

Meanwhile, the myth of the 'consumer society' in the advanced capitalist countries, of a so-called 'neo-capitalism' which would suppress the contradictions exposed by Marx, is dead for ever. The reality today is of an economic crisis, the first generalised recession since the Second World War, which has led to the unemployment of some 15 million men and women in Western Europe and the USA without at the same time being able to provide any permanent answer to the inflationary tendencies of this period.

The absolute hegemony of American capitalism since the end of the war seems to be over. This is expressed, for example, in the crisis of the international monetary system as its basic currency, the dollar, has steadily declined. This decline is watched with increasing anxiety by the capitalist powers of Western Europe and Japan, particularly as it is accompanied by a series of defeats and other incidents (Watergate) which testify to the disarray among the leadership of the world's most powerful capitalist country.

The progress of the Fourth International in this situation was expressed at its Tenth World Congress, held in the last week of February 1974. About 250 delegates and fraternal delegates participated, representing 48 sections and sympathising organisations from 41 countries. Compared to the previous congress the numerical strength of the Fourth International had increased some tenfold. This recruitment, although mainly of young people, was far from being confined to students or school students. It also included a substantial proportion of worker cadres who in some countries are now able to confront the ageing bureaucrats of the traditional organisations with growing success. This advance has also been reflected in the publications of the sections, as more and more are able to produce weekly papers along with theoretical reviews, pamphlets and books.

Apart from registering the progress of the movement, the Tenth World Congress was also important because of its work. A tendency struggle took place which was conducted in a very democratic fashion: more than 150 contributions to the discussion were distributed to the entire membership in every country; the discussion was conducted from the units at the base through regional and national congresses; tendencies and factions were established nationally or internationally; delegates were elected so that minorities were represented according to their proportion of the votes; finally the congress discussed and voted after having heard reports and counter-reports on the various questions at stake. The minorities were then represented on the leadership bodies elected by the congress, and the leadership of the International has subsequently published not only the documents adopted by the majority but also documents presenting the major minority positions, written by minority comrades. The importance of such democratic procedures for the life of the Fourth International cannot be over-estimated. Although every single one of our enemies predicted that a split between majority and minority was just around the corner, quite the reverse occurred: the differences were able to be resolved through the test of experience to the extent that by the end of 1977 the major factions and tendencies had been dissolved.

The debates of the Tenth World Congress took place on the following questions:

1. The international situation, where the resolution presented by Ernest Mandel and adopted by the congress confirmed and updated the general orientation defined by the preceding congress on the new upsurge of the world revolution since May 1968.

2. Aspects of the situation in Latin America (Bolivia, Argentina, problems of armed struggle on the continent). Most of the debate dealt with past positions, and it included an adjustment of the resolution on Latin America adopted by the Ninth World Congress.

3. Problems of building revolutionary Marxist parties in Western Europe. The theses on this question were presented by Livio Maitan. The importance of this point on the agenda derived from the central place once again occupied by the working class movement of Western Europe in the world revolutionary upsurge, and the possibilities open to the sections of the Fourth International in this part of the world.

Among the organisational decisions of the congress, the main one concerned a substantial strengthening of the international centre. In collaboration with the US Socialist Workers Party, this has recently permitted the combination of previous journals into a single international weekly, Inrercontinental Press/Inprecor, reflecting the views of the Fourth International.

Since the Tenth World Congress the advance of the Fourth International has experienced very few interruptions: it has penetrated various countries of the Middle East, several African countries, as well as further European countries such as Finland and Iceland -- not to mention Portugal, where the Liga Comunista Internacionalista (LCI -- Internationalist Communist League) has been built and stabilised almost from scratch since the fall of the dictatorship. Our publications in the languages of Eastern Europe (Russian, Polish, Czech) have increased as well; the Fourth International has now established a presence in some sixty countries.

The activity of the Fourth International has now reached a stage which it never attained in the past. Support for the Vietnamese revolution, solidarity with Chile, intervention in strike movements, in the struggle for women's liberation, in election campaigns, in anti-militarist work -- the sections of the Fourth International now intervene in all these areas, so that hardly a day now goes by without the mass media reporting some Trotskyist action, intervention or demonstration in this or that country.[4]

In relation to the years which have passed since its founding, the Fourth International has unquestionably made great progress. But we cannot stop here. We must turn our efforts to the ever greater demands made on us by the world situation.

There is still a long way to go before the aims for which the Fourth International was founded are achieved, namely to create a mass, international, revolutionary Marxist leadership and mass revolutionary parties, capable of assuring the victory of the world socialist revolution. For a long time, Trotskyists pursued this aim on the sole basis of historical necessity, of their profound belief in the revolutionary capacities that the working class has evinced throughout history, and in the correctness of revolutionary Marxism and the analyses it enabled them to make. Their opportunities for mass-scale actions were then minimal. Today, the old leaderships continue to clutter the road, to poison working class consciousness; but from now on more than theoretical conviction underlies Trotskyist activity.

The new generation living under the contradictions of capitalism are seeking anti-capitalist solutions, and their vanguard is beginning to rediscover revolutionary Marxism in thought and action. The merging of the Trotskyist movement and this young vanguard is already beginning to take place.


[1] Never did the position of the Socialist Labour League sectarians appear more pitiful than when they refused to engage in joint actions with 'petty-bourgeois' groups. In the existing circumstances, this position reduced SLL activity to violent attacks against the Fourth International and its supporters, and to purely verbal denunciations of the reformist and Stalinist leaderships. It also led to the SLL's total isolation from the big mass demonstrations. Thus, after having sent several hundred British youth to Litge on 15 October 1966, in order to denounce the Fourth International, they abstained from participating in the 27 October 1968 demonstration in London, perhaps the greatest mass demonstration held in England since the end of the war -- the most spirited, at any rate. This anti-Vietnam war demonstration was also, in effect, a demonstration of the left against the Wilson government's general policy; the SLL characterised the demonstration as a petty-bourgeois assembly and a'fraud'!

We do not care to act like scholastics, using and abusing quotations from on high; but with sectarians who follow the letter to better fight the spirit, it is often useful to let the classics take the floor. Let us hear what Lenin had to say in 'Left-wing' Communism: An Infantile Disorder:

' is the discipline of the revolutionary party of the proletariat maintained?... First, by the class consciousness of the proletarian vanguard and by its devotion to the revolution, by its perseverance, self-sacrifice and heroism. Secondly, by its ability to link itself, to keep in close touch with, and to a certain extent, if you like, to merge itself with the broadest masses of the toilers -- primarily with the proletarian, but also with the non-proletarian toiling masses. Thirdly, by the correctness of the political leadership exercised by this vanguard....'(Emphasis in original).

Thus, merging to a certain extent with non-proletarian masses is placed above correctness of political line. It took the daring of a Lenin to express the thought. What would our sectarians have said if these lines had been written by us, poor sinners that we are?

[2] May 1968 in France also allowed for an evaluation of the policies of the Organisation Communiste Internationaliste. (This great opponent of entryism has followed a line similar to that of the British SLL on the question of Cuba and Vietnam). During the greatest event in the history of the European class struggle since the end of World War II, the daily denunciations of this group culminated in its abstaining from the confrontations with the bourgeois state. The OCI sounded the alarm each time and advocated retreat, in order not to be led into 'a slaughter'. On this I refer the reader to Daniel Bensaid and Henri Weber's Mai 68, une repetition generale (May 68: A Dress Rehearsal). The authors of this book illustrate, in excellent fashion, how and why the OCI's sectarianism changed into active opportunism at the decisive moments, only to change back into sectarianism when the upsurge receded -- an apt time for this group to indulge in denunciations.

[3] The only serious setback for the Fourth International at this time took place in Argentina. Here the vast majority of the officially recognised section, the PRT (El Combatiente), which was not of Trotskyist origin, laid more and more stress on the guerrilla activities of its military wing, the ERP, until it finally withdrew from the Fourth International under Cuban influence.

[4] At the very time that the Fourth International is seriously growing, however, some observers -- either through ignorance or ill will -- talk about the existence of 'several' Fourth Internationals, owing to the fact that groups outside the Fourth International adopt this label in order to fight us. The Stalinists, of course, use this situation not to talk about 'several' Fourth Internationals but to amalgamate the positions of the Fourth International with those of these other groups. The present situation can be summarised as follows.

The main opponent of the Fourth International in this field was the 'International Committee', consisting of two quite important organisations, the OCI in France and the SLL in Britain, and a few insignificant groups in other countries. When these two organisations broke with each other, each created its own 'International Committee' proposing to 'build' or 'reconstruct' the international. We have mentioned already their political characteristics.

We have also referred earlier to the impressionism which characterised the faction which broke with the Fourth International under the leadership of Pablo. This now concentrates its attention on the question of self-management, which it presents as a panacea for the working class movement. In line with this it has abandoned the 'Fourth International' label which it retained after the split and now poses a solution in terms of a united front composed of mass movements in some colonial countries, workers states, etc.

As for the remaining handful of 'Posadists', a glance at any of their papers will show that their positions scarcely fall under the heading of political analysis.

Last updated on: 13.2.2005